Best and worst food trends of 2011

At restaurants and in home kitchens, 2011 was full of memorable food moments — good and bad. Here are five food trends we loved and three we’d like to leave behind.

Woman canning vegetables at home

Best food trends

Home canning: Wouldn’t our grandmas be proud? Many of us got into canning for the first time this summer, preserving food from our own gardens, CSA shares and farmers market hauls. Home canning certainly isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that many food-conscious people are revisiting because it’s a sustainable and healthy way to eat.

Return of the butcher (and the baker and the cheese monger): These people are experts at their crafts, and we’re turning to these artisans rather than seeking out our food from anonymous sources. The people behind these specialty shops are knowledgeable and passionate about what they sell, which often means you’re getting superior food. Plus, it’s fun to drop the phrase “my cheese monger says…” into casual conversation.

Root veggies: Often overlooked because of their gnarly and strange appearance, root veggies are enjoying some well-deserved time in the spotlight. Parsnips, turnips, radishes and beets have become favorites of restaurant chefs, and home cooks are following their lead. The best way to prepare many root veggies is also the easiest: Roast ’em.

Artisan cocktails: We love when bartenders put as much thought into a cocktail as chefs put into a dish. Cheers to those who are crafting balanced, thoughtful, unusual drinks with small-batch spirits, herbs and homemade syrups.

Pour-over coffee: This time-intensive brewing method, where hot water is slowly and methodically streamed by hand over a filter filled with grounds, is a new star on the coffee scene. Many say it’s a better brewing method because all of the grounds are heated evenly, one cup at a time, and won’t scorch. The downside: It takes 10 times longer than you’d expect to get a cup of coffee. If you’re in a hurry, this isn’t for you.

Worst food trends

Using “fresh” on a menu: When restaurants point out that a dish is made with “fresh” this and “fresh” that, it makes us wary: Exactly how old are the rest of the ingredients? With more chefs embracing local, seasonal foods, pointing out that something is fresh doesn’t impress us so much.

Bacon everything: Does bacon really make everything better? Food makers seem to think so, bringing us curiously flavored products like bacon vodka and bacon marshmallows. Don’t get us wrong: We love bacon. Real, crisped-up bacon. Anything less is usually a letdown.

The burger bubble: Between outrageous toppings (hello, doughnut bun) and what seems to be an endless number of boutique burger restaurants opening, we’ve got hamburger fatigue. It was hard to see burgers make the worst list because, well, we love burgers, but the trendy takeover gets an eye roll.

More food trends

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